While strides have been made in recent decades to close the earnings gap between men and women, when it comes to pensions and retirement finances the gap is actually widening.
The latest DWP statistics show that in 2006-07 the average retired single woman had a gross income of £294 per week from her pension and retirement savings, while her male counterpart received £325 – a gap of £31 per week. Ten years on, and the average woman receives £316 per week with the average man receiving £401 per week – that’s £85 more .
But what about the current pension planners? Will they have enough tucked away to determine their retirement date?
More women than men work part time or take a break to raise a family, increasing the risk that they will have fewer than the 35 years of NI contributions needed to receive a full State Pension, as well as reducing the contributions they make to company pensions.
So, there’s every reason to assume that a gap will, at the least, remain – putting the onus on women to take more control of their private pensions.
Saving for a pension is low on 29-year-old Charlotte Madeira’s list of financial concerns.
‘I have a pension scheme with my current employer, into which I pay a very small percentage of my monthly salary,’ she says. ‘Retirement feels quite far in the future, so as long as I’m putting some money away to accumulate over time, it feels as if that’s OK.’
However, Charlotte is conscious that it’s better to start saving sooner rather than later.
‘I think I will need to up my contributions or pay into an additional private scheme, but it’s extremely difficult to save money while renting in London when the cost of living is so high.’
Charlotte is also frustrated that she will have to balance working and saving with family and fun her whole life – especially thanks to the gender pension gap.
‘It’s disconcerting to know that taking career breaks means I could potentially save £20,000 less in my pension pot than my male counterparts.
‘I’ll be working well into my 60s before I can retire, which is pretty daunting. But I’m looking forward to subscribing to those cruise brochures! Apart from that, though, I don’t have a plan.’
Like Charlotte, Jan Reed is typical of many millennials, or ‘Generation Y’, who have found it hard to get onto the property ladder, while paying rent leaves little for anything else.
Aged 37, she is married with one child and has worked for all but six months since she left school 20 years ago.
‘I’ve been paying in my NI contributions, so my State Pension should be okay, but I’ve not been able to save anything towards my own pension,’ she says.
‘We may inherit at some time in the future, but with care costs that is not something one should expect!’
The introduction of auto-enrolment for all companies means that Jan could start to see a pension pot build up over the coming years from both herself and her employer: although statutory contributions are still at a relatively low level, these should rise to a total of 8% from next April.
Taking flight at 55
 Department for Work and Pensions, 2018. Pensioners' incomes series: financial year 2016/17. GOV.UK , https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/pensioners-incomes-series-financial-year-201617